Time to cover some news that either broke after I composed the most recent Friday Five, or has had new developments since then, or didn’t quite make the cut for that post, or is simply an update to some news story I have previous linked and talked about. So let’s go:
This related to the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into whether Trump’s company inflated the value of some of his signature properties to obtain the best possible loans, while lowballing the values to reduce property taxes. There may also be evidence of insurance fraud. This is completely separate from the New York State Attorney General’s investigation, though it includes similar allegations. The Manhattan DA only has jurisdiction over crimes that happened within New York City, whereas the state AG can be looking at potentially criminal activities throughout the rest of the state: New York Attorney General Letitia James says Trump Supreme Court ruling won’t affect her tax probe.
Here’s a weird one:Who’s the Homophobe Bothering Local Businesses and Ken Jennings’ Family? If you are aware of Ken Jennings, a multiple Jeopardy champion, you might also know that he lives in Seattle, where I live. Because he is local, he is probably a bit more of a celebrity here than other places. Anyway, a few years ago someone started mailing postcards containing very unimaginative homophobic rants to Ken and his wife. Jennings has never identified as queer, but there is at least one of two times that he has publicly stated his support for queer rights in general, and marriage equality in particular.
They’ve been getting this postcards for a while, as I mentioned, but in the last several weeks similar postcards, supposedly signed by Mrs. Jennings, have been being received by various small businesses around town. Most of these businesses are not owned by queer people, though I know at least two of the businesses have offered Pride Month specials in previous years. It’s a weird story and a weird way to harass people. I assume the homophobe signed the new cards with Mrs. Jennings’ name in hopes that some of the recipients would believe they were from her and go public with the news?
But again, whey have they sent these postcards to the barely semi-famous straight couple for the last few years?
If I weren’t running out of time on my lunch break, I’d go off in detail about how often homophobes always spout almost the same, unimaginative slurs and insults. But, let’s move one…
Let’s leave with something cool!
I Miss My Bar – Recreate Your Favorite Bar’s Atmosphere. If you go to this website, you can select various options to make your computer, tablet, or whatever you’re browsing on generate background noised that sound like a bar (or restaurant). You control the mix of which ambient sounds, want a very light rain on the window? Or maybe the sound of more heavy rain? A lot of background conversations? Or just a few other people in a mostly empty place.
It’s just a really cool concept. And even though I’m a big introvert, I can appreciate how odd it has been that I haven’t been in a bar or restaurant for over a year. For people who used to go out a lot more than I ever did, this may be even more interesting.
It’s not world-shattering or life-changing, thus a really cool project that someone has put together and then put out in the world.
I was working on something else, and not certain I wanted to say anything more about the grifter-in-chief’s taxes, but then I saw this excellent post elseweb:
1. The way he’s been able to continue functioning is a classic rich fuck tactic, in which if your business fails to the tune of, say, 15 million dollars, you can carry that loss forward across several years to avoid paying taxes. One massive loss can clear out your personal tax burden for several years, even as you bring in more money with new businesses and investments.
2. Trump is literally a national security risk. If he underwent the same background check other people need to pass to get clearance, he would have fucking flunked it. The NYT piece says there’s a mysterious foreign debt lender on Trump’s records, whom he owes half a billion dollars, and we don’t currently know who the fuck that is. But that debt is personally guaranteed to come due in the next few years, and he doesn’t have the money to even dent it. So, what does a man with no morals do when he owes a shitton of money and has no way to pay? Apparently he runs for president.
3. According to Dan Alexander at Forbes, the actual amount that Trump owes is spread across a lot of his properties and comes to around $1.1 billion overall. Same dude is trying to tally up how much income Trump’s properties bring in. So far, it doesn’t add up to that much.
4. Trump’s businesses are almost exclusively real estate, hospitality, and attractions. All of them were hit hard by COVID. This readily explains why he was so adamant about reopening the country as quickly as possible; his loan repayments depend on that income.
5. Also explains why he spends so much time away from the WH and at his own properties. When we talk about how much the taxpayer spends on Trump’s outings and golf trips, if that money is paid to the Trump Organization, it’s essentially an attempt to funnel money out of the US Govt and into his pockets to, again, prepare to pay off his massive debts.
6. He’s essentially using the IRS as a loan provider. That massive 72.9 million dollar tax return from the IRS that he’s being audited over, it’s essentially him taking out a ‘loan’ to try to pay down other prior debts.
7. Oh yeah and he stealthily wrote off a bunch of money in “consulting fees” that were paid to fucking Ivanka. Imagine using your own daughter to dodge taxes, jesus.
Basically, Trump has done the billionaire version of taking out a credit card to pay off other credit card debt, and the time is running out for him to make payments. His entire presidency is a money-making scheme of someone who is coming up on major deadlines on his loans and doesn’t have the money to pay.
There’s a lot of reading to do, but I personally suggest this thread from the Forbes guy, which outlines how much Trump is in debt for each of his properties, and then how much operating profit is allegedly coming in.
If you want to read the referenced thread from Forbes contributor Dan Alexander, click here.
The reason I hadn’t planned to say anything more about this topic is similar to the reasons why I’m not watching the debate.
None of Trump’s supporters are going to be swayed by this revelation. I’ve already seen some of them crowing about how this proves how awesome Trump is, because only suckers pay taxes, or taxes are evil, et cetera.
Trump’s 40% is locked in. Members of his base would support him even if Don Jr kicked down the door to their home and held them at gunpoint while Trump strangled their child to death right in front of him. They are a lost cause.
No matter what happens in the debate, Trump, the GOP, and the right-leaning media are going to lie about what happened and will declare Biden the loser.
No matter what happens in the debate, most of the so-called liberal media will act as if it was a meaningful exchange of ideas, and will cite any gaff or mispeaking that Biden does as being the equivalent of the blatant lying that Trump will do.
There is nothing I could learn at the debate that will change my mind about who I’m voting for.
The only people who care about facts have already decided not to vote for Trump. So, what’s the point?
I realize that there are people who do care about the facts who might not understand what we’ve learned from seeing the grifter’s tax returns, so there is some value in sharing this.
While the debate is on and being analyzed, I’m going to watch the season finale of Julie and the Phantoms and then settle in with my the new Dresden Files book.
Time once again to visit stories that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five or represent a new development in a story I’ve linked to and/or that I’ve ranted or otherwise expressed opinions upon before. This week supplemented with some graphics I collected for possible inclusion in blog posts which are just going to sit on the hard disk unless I upload a whole bunch of them at once. Let’s just jump in, shall we?
Roger Stone is an ass. He is a criminal. He is almost certainly a traitor. But he did all of that to help the alleged president, so of course just before he is to serve an extremely light sentence for the crimes he was convicted of, the narcissistic fascist occupying the oval office has commuted his sentence. And of course he had to spew a bunch of lies while doing it: Debunking 12 lies and falsehoods from the White House statement on Roger Stone’s commutation.
And while I mostly point out the failings of my fellow Americans, it is important to remember that we don’t have a monopoly on either stupidity or ignorant conservatism. Wear a mask, and stop being a drama queen! Surgical teams wear masks far more restrictive than the simple cloth masks we’re asking for–and they complete hours long complicated surgeries with no one passing out, et cetera. Wearing a mask is different than not wearing one, but it isn’t onerous, it isn’t damaging to your health, and it isn’t something you can’t get used to. And it does save the lives of other people. Stop being ignorant, selfish pricks, and wear a mask!
That’s all the bad news I can deal with this morning. Let’s look at something less serious, shall we?
Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Cobert Perform “Button!”:
Since I was busy with friends most of Saturday (and thus I started my usual errands earlier than typical), I didn’t have time to do a Weekend Update. So, here are some stories that either didn’t make the cut for this week’s Friday Five, or broke after that post was assembled, or just provoke a desire for more extensive commentary than I like to put into Friday Five.
First, I have written more than once about financial and other shenanigans of local political gadfly and perennial anti-tax, anti-gay, anti-well-anything-decent initiative filer: Tim Eyman. A while back Eyman was caught on video stealing an office chair from an Office Depot. The video was kind of funny: he finds the chair set up near the door, sits in it, spins around in it, then stands up and wheels it out to his car. Moments later he came back inside and bought some other stuff. According to the testimony of the employees, he did not mention the chair to the cashier. He did not pay for the chair. When the cashier called someone over to help Eyman carry his purchases (which included some heavy printers), Eyman tried to turn them down. When they insisted, he led them to his SUV, and had the guy stack things next to the back of the SUV but pointedly did not open the back of the vehicle until after the employee had walked back into the store.
Eyman claims he meant to pay for the chair. But the sketchy behavior in the parking lot clearly said otherwise. Anyway, the case came to a close this week: Lacey lets Tim Eyman off with $193 fine for stealing chair. He also is barred from entering that Office Depot for nine months. The sheer pettiness and stupidity of stealing a $70 office chair when he’s going to be paying for $300 worth of printers other things is, to me, the perfect metaphor for the kind of entitled scam artist that he is. He hasn’t worked an honest day in decades. His only source of income for many years are the political campaigns he wages to cripple the state’s tax system or take rights away from gay and trans citizens.
And that income isn’t all on the up-and-up, either. He’s involved in a lawsuit over campaign finance violations, and he had some bad news there this week: Thurston County judge finds Tim Eyman in contempt again. According to the judge, this charge is for “refusal to disclose complete information related to hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments he solicited from individual donors.” Back in 2002 he settled a campaign finance lawsuit by paying a $50,000 fine and agreeing to a lifetime ban on being the “signer on any financial accounts” for political committees. In the current lawsuit, in which the state says he illegally funneled $300,000 from a 2012 initiative campaign into his personal accounts, the state is seeking $2.1 million dollars plus court costs and a lifetime ban on handling any finances of any political campaign. His previous contempt charge, for not turning over required documents, has been racking up a daily fine that the state says adds up to more than $200,000 so far. I don’t know if this second charge means more daily fines or what.
Meanwhile, another of his initiatives to severely limit local and regional citizens to tax themselves for capital projects will be on the ballot in the fall. He previously filed for bankruptcy protection, but then withdrew that once he learned that monthly reports on his personal finances would be available to the public, and might make some of his supporters question whether they wanted to keep donating to him. It has been said that the most dangerous place to be in this state is standing between Eyman and a TV news camera. Strange how he keeps refusing to turn over information, huh?
His wife filed for divorce last year—he claims that it’s because the state is being mean to him. Which is a really funny way of spelling “tired of being in close proximity of all this negative publicity that her husband’s actions have brought down on him.”
Speaking of men with no morals and sketchy finances: Financier Jeffrey Epstein found nearly unconscious in jail cell, suicide attempt suspected. You may recall the Epstein has been arrested in connection with sex trafficking and sexual abuse of underage girls. You may also recall that the evidence against submitted to the court includes what was described has a massive drove of photos of said underage girls in sexual situations. You may also recall how he got a sweetheart deal on similar charges years ago that meant he didn’t have to do serious jail time and was allowed to leave the jail 6 days out of every week to keep running his so-called business? And that after serving his ridiculously short sentence, he failed to report his movements to law enforcement as required under his plea deal?
Well, the case isn’t exactly looking any better for Epstein: The Feds Want to Talk to the Pilots Who Flew Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express”. Yes, the feds issued subpoenas earlier this month to Epstein’s pilots. I wonder if that may have prompted the alleged suicide attempt. And I’m using alleged for a couple of reasons, but mainly because it hasn’t been ruled out that he staged the stunt to get transferred out of the prison and into a hospital or mental institution.
One of those wild theories is based on something that Alexander Acosta (the former U.S. attorney who made that sweetheart deal years ago, and who was forced to resign as Trump’s Labor Secretary when the new Epstein charges brought that old deal back into the press) during the vetting for the Labor position. He said that old deal with Epstein wouldn’t be a problem because the only reason he made the deal was that someone warned him to back off because Epstein “belonged to intelligence.” The implication was that Epstein had been providing some sort of information to U.S. intelligence agents. That’s the one I think is least likely. But his secretive money management funds might actually be a big Ponzi scheme, or blackmail could be a major component (and might be a better explanation for why someone would warn Acosta away from the case), or all his off-shore account, besides being a tried-and-true way to avoid paying taxes might also be a money laundering scheme.
I hope that it all comes to light as his trial proceeds. And I hope all the men who participated in the sex parties filled with young girls get what’s coming to them. Whoever they are.